Microsoft and Android

Dakota Tebaldi

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End of Support for Windows Phone is this coming December, and so I've been intending to move to an Android phone for some time; in fact it might happen in the next couple of weeks. So I've been looking at the situation insofar as seeing how painless of a change it will be, since almost all my stuff is on the Microsoft ecosystem and I'd prefer not to have to change that much or at all if I don't have to.

Back on SLU (lol, you won't believe how long I had to pause right then just trying to remember the name of the old board) I started a thread a couple of years ago when I was trying out an Android tablet (that has been lost between then and now) to see what the state of MS integration was back then, and it was....well I wasn't despairing but I definitely wasn't thrilled.

Now that the change is much more imminent for me, I've been looking into the state of things yet again, and things have really progressed. Microsoft is all up in Android now, seriously. They're making lots of apps for iOS too, but their Android stuff is able to do things that Apple would never let them do on an iPhone.

For instance, this app feature is in development right now, but if you install MS's phone-linking app in Windows, when the feature is finished and rolls out you'll be able to make and receive phone calls from your computer:


You'll also be able to send and receive MMS messages, and cast your phone's screen to your computer, among other things. Being able to read and respond to texts on my computer was something I was already able to do on account of having a synced Windows Phone, and it's actually pretty cool that I'll still be able to do that soon after I switch to an Android phone; but the actual phone-call integration is crazy-goodness.

Believe it or not, Microsoft even has its own Android launcher, the Microsoft Launcher. They had one back when I was experimenting with that tablet, too - it was called Arrow Launcher back then, and it wasn't really anything tremendously special TBH; but again, things have changed significantly since then. And it does NOT turn your Android phone into some kind of Windows btw; it doesn't even look anything like Windows Phone's UI. It's a thoroughly Android UI.

 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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Well with the CEO change from Steve Ballmer to Nadella the corporate strategy changed completely. Microsoft does not really care so much any longer on which platform you are running their apps, as long as you are running their apps they are already happy. And this shift shows drastically.

Microsoft today is one of the biggest commiters to the Linux kernel, they've ported also Linux userland to Windows (WSL), they bought Github and did many, other interesting things.
 
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Kara Spengler

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Unfortunately android tablets never really took off, despite them being dirt cheep. There is probably a guide for going from windows phone to an android phone out there though, as it is akin to going from windows to linux.

For example, there are MS office apps for android, without even just going to the o365 website either.
 
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Just make sure you get a "pure android" phone, with minimum manufacturer bloatware. My first Android phone was Samsung and it was such a pain that I've stuck with Nexus/Pixel since then.

Tablets are less of a pain with the bloatware, but the small tablets don't get refreshed very often. For example, all the 7" tablets are at least 3-4 years old now. I'm hoping for a refresh of the Samsung Tab A 7.
 

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Yep, try to stay away from the companies that install bloatware, which are battery killers among other things. While modern versions of android give more control over it by allowing you to disable such apps, they still remain installed. Of course, rooting will help you completely remove bloatware but often you don't want to root during the time period when android updates are still being pushed out to the device.
 
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Microsoft has a ton of apps available on Android. I used Windows Phone up until about 2 years ago when my phone broke and I decided to go back to Android since the writing was on the wall for Windows Phone.

I have had good luck with Motorola. I have a G5+, it runs fine, it's affordable. I think they may be on the G6 or something now though. Samsung is the big dog but they put a lot of bloat and I honestly really dislike their phones.

FWIW, I've used 3 Windows based smart phones (One was a Blackjack II) and 2 Android phones in the last, 15 years or so. Not counting other people's phones I have interacted with or the 3 iPhones work has given me.
 
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Dakota Tebaldi

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The phone I'm probably going with at least to start with is a friend's LG G6 that they're upgrading from, so I don't really have too much of a choice insofar as picking a manufacturer until I upgrade from that. I do know though that Samsung and LG have reputations for bloat, and also not-great default launchers.
 

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Just make sure you get a "pure android" phone, with minimum manufacturer bloatware. My first Android phone was Samsung and it was such a pain that I've stuck with Nexus/Pixel since then.
If you don't specifically want to go with a Pixel, any Android One device should be okay. They are essentially pure Android with minimal if any modifications, customizations, or OEM bloat. Plus, they are guaranteed updates for at least two years from when the phone was released. I'm using a Nokia 7.1, and it is so much smoother and more responsive than my Samsung had ever been.
 

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I've heard good things about the Nokia, and Motorola has some good clean models.

On the other hand my Pixel XL (Oct 2016) just got an upgrade to Android 10.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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The phone I'm probably going with at least to start with is a friend's LG G6 that they're upgrading from, so I don't really have too much of a choice insofar as picking a manufacturer until I upgrade from that. I do know though that Samsung and LG have reputations for bloat, and also not-great default launchers.
You can disable the bloatware on any Android device, as long as you are able to get ADB up and running on your computer and can enable the developer mode on your phone. No custom ROM, no root hack necessary. So while it's still sitting on your phone, it's not running any longer until you start it by yourself.

Just read this howto: How To Disable Any System App Bloatware On Android Without Root
 

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You can disable the bloatware on any Android device, as long as you are able to get ADB up and running on your computer and can enable the developer mode on your phone. No custom ROM, no root hack necessary. So while it's still sitting on your phone, it's not running any longer until you start it by yourself.

Just read this howto: How To Disable Any System App Bloatware On Android Without Root
Don't modern (Since Lollipop or so?) versions of android let you just go into the app settings and disable the bloat so you don't need to run adb? That's what I've done with the Samsung garbage. It came with Nougat, I believe, and is up to Pie now.

Of course, we don't know what verison Cody is going to end up with on the phone they are getting.
 
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Katheryne Helendale

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Don't modern (Since Lollipop or so?) versions of android let you just go into the app settings and disable the bloat so you don't need to run adb? That's what I've done with the Samsung garbage. It came with Nougat, I believe, and is up to Pie now.

Of course, we don't know what verison Cody is going to end up with on the phone they are getting.
The LG G6 he mentioned should come with at least Nougat on it.
 

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Messaging already works. Notifications sync. Some apps have a Continue on PC option.
 
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Dakota Tebaldi

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The LG G6 he mentioned should come with at least Nougat on it.
Yep - and I *think* this phone got an OTA update to Oreo, although since the owner is supposed to be factory-resetting it it might not have it when it gets to me (whenever that will be).
 

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Yep - and I *think* this phone got an OTA update to Oreo, although since the owner is supposed to be factory-resetting it it might not have it when it gets to me (whenever that will be).
The good news is that a factory reset does not revert the Android version installed. If it updated to Oreo, then that's what will be there after the reset.
 
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Dakota Tebaldi

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Oh, and I'll be able to set Cortana as my default voice assistant! \o/

Doing my research though, it's not clear to me whether I can make Outlook work the way I want it to. I think the option to make it my default email app is there, but I don't know if I can also make it my default Contacts or Calendar app as well. One or both of those isn't settable, is the impression I'm getting. However, I think you can set it so that the native contacts and calendar apps don't sync to the phone's Google account. If that's true, and if I can at least somehow sync or import my Outlook contacts to the native contacts app rather than having to do it all by hand, I suppose I won't mind using that native app too much. I don't really care about syncing to the default calendar app, since Cortana will still put stuff in my Outlook calendar and give me notifications from it just fine.
 

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The phone I'm probably going with at least to start with is a friend's LG G6 that they're upgrading from, so I don't really have too much of a choice insofar as picking a manufacturer until I upgrade from that. I do know though that Samsung and LG have reputations for bloat, and also not-great default launchers.
The nice thing about android is there are plenty of neat alternatives to just about everything. Do not like their defaults? Choose something else. The original thing will be there on most phones but inactive, but storage is cheep.
 
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Katheryne Helendale

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The nice thing about android is there are plenty of neat alternatives to just about everything. Do not like their defaults? Choose something else. The original thing will be there on most phones but inactive, but storage is cheep.
Unfortunately, Android is not that great about managing that storage. I've got an LG Harmony that I'm not using right now. It only has 16GB of internal storage. So I figured I'd install most of its apps to a 64GB microsd card. Great idea, except at least half the installed apps refused to be moved off of internal storage, and of the ones that did move, they moved back every time they were updated. It got to be a real headache.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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Unfortunately, Android is not that great about managing that storage. I've got an LG Harmony that I'm not using right now. It only has 16GB of internal storage. So I figured I'd install most of its apps to a 64GB microsd card. Great idea, except at least half the installed apps refused to be moved off of internal storage, and of the ones that did move, they moved back every time they were updated. It got to be a real headache.
My Windows phone was pretty decent at handling this; the only thing was there were some apps that just demanded to be installed only on the onboard. But they told you this during install. If you moved the app to an SD later, it would work, but during an update you'd again get a notice that the app had to be moved back to the internal drive before it could be updated.
 

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Unfortunately, Android is not that great about managing that storage. I've got an LG Harmony that I'm not using right now. It only has 16GB of internal storage. So I figured I'd install most of its apps to a 64GB microsd card. Great idea, except at least half the installed apps refused to be moved off of internal storage, and of the ones that did move, they moved back every time they were updated. It got to be a real headache.
Google has become really hostile to external storage. I really wished it would go the other way, but Google's gotta Google, and they're all about the cloud.